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Ontotheological Turnings?

The Decentering of the Modern Subject in Recent French Phenomenology

Joeri Schrijvers

Publication Year: 2011

Explores and critiques the so-called “decentering of the subject” in French phenomenology. This incisive work examines questions of ontotheology and their relation to the so-called “theological turn” of recent French phenomenology. Joeri Schrijvers explores and critiques the decentering of the subject attempted by Jean-Luc Marion, Jean-Yves Lacoste, and Emmanuel Levinas, three philosophers who, inspired by their reading of Heidegger, attempt to overturn the active and autonomous subject. In his consideration of each thinker, Schrijvers shows that a simple reversal of the subject-object distinction has been achieved, but no true decentering of the subject. For Lacoste, the subject becomes God’s intention; for Marion, the subject becomes the object and objective of givenness; and for Levinas, the subject is without secrets, like an object, before a greater Other. Critiquing the axioms and assumptions of contemporary philosophy, Schrijvers argues that there is no overcoming ontotheology. He ultimately proposes a more phenomenological and existential approach, a presencing of the invisible, to address the concerns of ontotheology.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Theology and Continental Thought

Ontotheological Turnings?

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pp. xi-xii

I should like to offer my gratitude to my promoter, Lieven Boeve, who supported this work in a manifold of generous ways. A word of thanks also to Jean-Yves Lacoste and Kevin Hart who were so kind as to participate in the jury and commented upon earlier versions of this text....


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pp. xiii-xvi

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pp. 1-4

This book is launched from one simple thesis that it then, somewhat tirelessly, explores: that which Marion, Lacoste, and Levinas present as a ‘decentering of the subject’ is, for reasons that I hope will become obvious, in fact, no such decentering, for their accounts of the decentering of the subject seems simply to reverse the subject...

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1. Some Notes on a French Debate

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pp. 5-24

Thinkers such as Levinas, Marion, and Lacoste are all trying to understand what the word God might mean in the contemporary world once that which was understood by this term previously has been proclaimed dead. Indeed, it seems that the God that passed away is brought to life again in what has been called “the theological turn of French phenomenology...

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2. Phenomenology, Liturgy, and Metaphysics

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pp. 25-50

From his earlier to his later works, Lacoste engages in a thorough discussion with Heidegger. One could even say that Lacoste is somewhat suspicious of the German philosopher’s overwhelming presence in contemporary philosophical and theological circles. This suspicion only becomes fully manifest in Lacoste’s recent book...

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3. From the Subject to the ‘Adonné’

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pp. 51-80

In this chapter, I will present Marion’s concept of ‘subjectivity’—summed up in his term adonné. It may be clear that Marion’s thinking of givenness requires something other than a transcendental subject, since this subject, prior to all reality as it is, constitutes this reality and determines which sense to be given to it...

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4. On Miracles and Metaphysics: From Marion to Levinas

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pp. 81-104

Being given that, for Marion, the event as much as the autonomous appearance of the artwork can take the form of the miracle, one might, especially from the viewpoint of the Enlightenment, and with a bit of irony: a miraculous return of the miracle. For Marion indeed, miracles are no longer to be conceived of as exceptions to ordinary phenomena...

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5. Levinas: Substituting the Subject for Responsibility

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pp. 105-136

I concluded the previous chapter by focusing on Levinas’ ‘relation without relation.’ In this chapter, I will expand upon that notion by pointing to the role of language in this peculiar relation, especially given the fact that Marion grants Levinas’ account of ‘the Saying,’ thus of language, an exceptional status when it comes to the question of ontotheology....

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6. Intermediary Conclusions and the Question concerning Ontotheology

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pp. 137-158

In the preceding chapters, I have tried to critique the notion of a ‘reverse intentionality’ at issue in the works of Lacoste, Marion, and Levinas. I have tried to show that the very idea of a reversal of intentionality remains stuck in the problem it wanted to resolve...

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7. “And There Shall Be No More Boredom”: Problems with Overcoming Metaphysics

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pp. 159-178

This chapter portrays the way in which singularity and particularity make their appearance in Heidegger, Levinas, and Marion. It is true that Heidegger, Marion, and Levinas all frame their thought around that which might counter the reckoning with beings and objects. Philosophy, they argue, has preferred controllable, foreseeable, and ‘present-at-hand’ objects...

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8. Marion and Levinas on Metaphysics

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pp. 179-210

In this chapter, I will consider Marion’s and Levinas’ account of the “ontotheological constitution of metaphysics.” This will allow us to understand the reversal of the subject-object distinction at issue in the larger bulk of their respective works in greater detail. My overall question is to understand why there, after all, can still be some ontotheological...

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pp. 211-238

This text started with the commission, so to say, to study the so-called theological turn of phenomenology (Janicaud). It would be an exaggeration to say that I have found no such turn. However, it would not be totally incorrect to say that identifying such a turn is a somewhat vain effort. Indeed, such an identification might perhaps only arise from a desire to keep things simple and clear-cut...


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pp. 239-264


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pp. 265-286

E-ISBN-13: 9781438438955
E-ISBN-10: 1438438958
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438438931
Print-ISBN-10: 1438438931

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: SUNY series in Theology and Continental Thought